The BBC reports:

Gunmen have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack.

Four of the magazine’s well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers.

This is a fucking disaster.

Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is Great” in Arabic (“Allahu Akbar”).

The number of attackers was initially reported to be two, but French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later said security services were hunting three “criminals”. He said that Paris had been placed on the highest alert.

Footage taken from a rooftop in Paris shows two gunmen firing shots
Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, 47, had received death threats in the past and was living under police protection.

French media have named the three other cartoonists killed in the attack as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski, as well as Charlie Hebdo contributor and French economist Bernard Maris.

The attack took place during the magazine’s daily editorial meeting.

At least four people were critically wounded in the attack.

The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs. It was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

It didn’t “court controversy” you cowardly assholes.

We’re all fucking doomed.


  1. Anne Fenwick says

    It didn’t “court controversy” you cowardly assholes.

    Actually, Ophelia, that was very precisely its raison d’etre. What it didn’t court is a death penalty imposed by random savages.

    We’re all fucking doomed.

    Hyperbole again? It’s at times like this that I like to remember what my grandparents generation went through twice with WWI & II. We are not all fucking doomed. We are just going to have to pull ourselves together, work at what we’re doing and accept that we’re going to be taking some risks for it.

  2. Anne Fenwick says

    To be clear, what bugs me is watching someone respond to terrorism with a display of apparent terror.

  3. Saad says

    Yeah, this sentence is so infuriating.

    The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs.

    There’s a video of the murderers gunning an officer down then walking up to him to execute him.

    What’s the response to such violence? So depressing. I’m from a Muslim background. I just feel like giving up with how frequently these things happen.

  4. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    @Anne, I agree. Twelve dead is a tragedy but it is not going to cause the Western world to convert to Islam any more than Bin Laden’s attack on the twin towers did.

    We do not yet know for sure that this is an attack by Islamists or people pretending to be Islamists in the hope of instigating a reaction. The latter is quite possible: Putin is accused of doing just that in Chechnya, the Italian neo-Facists killed hundreds in the Bologna railway bombing they hoped to blame on the communists and use as a pretext for a coup. Was it ISIS/Da’esh or their opponents looking to pull NATO in to the Syrian civil war?

    What is a rather more pertinent question is how close these attackers are to ISIS/Da’esh. Given the circumstances (use of Kalashnikov rifles, apparent planning and training) a direct chain of command seems quite likely. If so it is not only an act of terrorism, it is an act of war.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    I’m from a Muslim background. I just feel like giving up

    Go for it. But be careful, I hear they frown on quitters. Fatally, sometimes.

    And of course they courted controversy, just like any other satirist. That’s the job description, practically. If you’re a satirist who doesn’t court controversy, you’re doing it wrong.

    The French are an admirably and fiercely secular nation, and this will do nothing to quell their hostility to their Muslim minority. The far right are probably rubbing their hands.

  6. sonofrojblake says

    Re: “courting controversy” – when Jyllands-Posten put out the call for cartoons satirising Islam, one artist responded with a picture of a grinning white man standing in front of a blackboard on which were written the words “The Editors of Jyllands-Posten are a bunch of reactionary provocateurs”. Which is to say, he accurately divined the editors’ intent, and called them on it.

    To their credit, they published his cartoon anyway, despite it not containing any reference of any kind (offensive or otherwise) to Islam or Muslims whatsoever.

    Entertainingly (unless you’re him or his family), he still got a torrent of death threats from enraged Muslims. How you can issue a written threat of death when you’re that illiterate remains a mystery.

  7. says

    Anne Fenwick @ 2 – well that’s too god damn bad. I have good friends who do the same kind of work that the people murdered at Charlie Hebdo did. I do the same kind of work myself. It’s just too god damn bad that you don’t like to be told that I’m upset.

  8. Z says

    picture of a grinning white man standing in front of a blackboard

    Actually, it was a brown-ish, presumably Muslim schoolboy (that’s why there was a blackboard).

  9. bigwhale says

    Without context, “courting controversy” is factually correct. But there is extra meaning as it is used in this article. They may not even realize they are doing it, but they are putting some of the blame on the victim.

    Many of the above comments illustrate why this is a problem. We are discussing what the victim could have done differently instead of the tragedy.

    The victim may have deserved some critisizm. But nothing they did deserved this violence. When I tell you my house was robbed, it is not the best time to tell me I should have had better locks. I am sure any surviving members of the magazine are already thinking about what they could have done differently.

  10. says

    Ophelia, of course, you’re upset, and rightly so. I am pretty upset myself, even though I never wrote a book entitled “Does God hate women?”. I’ve been trying to work while keeping an eye on the news ever since the news broke, not very successfully.

    bigwhale: Well said. But even if the victim did deserve some criticicism, today is not the day to bring that up.

  11. says

    And they always do that “courting controversy” thing. I’ve been posting about it for years. They invariably say things like “sparked outrage” whenever they report on Salman Rushdie, Jesus & Mo, the Motoons, Lars Vilks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Theo Van Gogh, etc etc etc. Every damn time.

  12. says

    Yes, you have been posting about it for years, and yes, it’s tiresome. (Not you posting about it for years, but the reason you have been posting about it for years.)

    It appears that French police may already have identified the terrorists. If so, that’s impressively fast police work, or else they didn’t cover their tracks all that well. Perhaps the car they used left some clues.

  13. Bernard Bumner says

    To be clear, what bugs me is watching someone respond to terrorism with a display of apparent terror.

    A natural emotional response bugs you? I’m willing to say that another type of victory for terrorists would be that we become desensitised and inured to horror; that we are so brutalised as to reject outrage and dismay as valid reactions.

    Courting controversy also tends to suggest provocation for its own sake, rather than in service of an agenda. Satirists are accused of controversialism, whereas Islamists who react against popular will and modernity are acknowledged as sincere. Satire is also a serious business, serving something more than mere mischief-making.

  14. Anne Fenwick says

    I am upset also. After all it’s my country, my compatriots and for that matter it’s me whose going to be traveling through high risk zones on full terror alert (again). However, situations like this affect us all, and our actions and speech have real consequences. Fear and anger are the goal that terrorists aim at, far more than the deaths of individuals they kill, furthermore, fear and anger frequently lead the victims (of the terror, not of the act itself) to carry out actions they should be ashamed of and to restrict their own freedoms and values as effectively as if they had put the terrorists directly in charge.

    So yeah, my problem is that I ‘don’t like to be told’ that you’re upset. My problem is that I believe reactions like this are an unwitting collaboration with the terrorists’ aims and a contribution to our endangerment. You are indeed on a frontline of sorts and melting down in front of the enemy is not a good plan.

  15. chigau (違う) says

    What we need is more Vulcans.
    They don’t get upset.
    They just find it interesting.

  16. says

    Anne Fenwick – what do you mean “After all it’s my country, my compatriots” etc? You say that as if it’s common knowledge. I don’t know you. I don’t even know that you’re Anne Fenwick – some of the time you’re Pen. Which is it?

    But never mind. If you’re going to be calling me a collaborator, you can fuck right off.

  17. Bernard Bumner says

    Anne Fenwick, I’d say that invoking the World Wars and talking about front lines is potentially much more problematic -xenophobia, chauvinism, jingoism, patriorism, nationalism all feed on such imagery.

    It is much more important that people act with measure and restraint on a timescale of days, weeks, years, not mere minutes. An immediate human reaction does not provide succour for terrorists.

    Your country, your compatriots, but we all understand that we are targets of violent Islamists, and remember that for many here our countries have already been attacked. Every nation is a target.

    You cannot demand that all public reactions are devoid of anger or fear, or else what motivates and guides our condemnation? Dispassion? Cold logic? Should there be silence instead of condemnation if someone isn’t able to marshal sufficient steel for your liking?


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